World Rugby

2023 Rugby World Cup: Takeaways From Each Team In Week 4

2023 Rugby World Cup: Takeaways From Each Team In Week 4

Eight Rugby World Cup matches were dotted across France in Week 4, and the picture for the knockout round got a little clearer.

Oct 3, 2023 by Briar Napier
2023 Rugby World Cup: Takeaways From Each Team In Week 4

Eight Rugby World Cup matches were dotted across France in Week 4, and the picture for the knockout round became clearer.

Some countries improved their standings in their pools, while others faltered and made their paths to advancing out of the pool stage that much harder. 

Just one week of pool play remains before the quarterfinals begin, and after Week 4, it’s worth examining a little deeper how each team that played helped or hurt its chances.

Here’s a look at some key takeaways from each team that played in Week 4 at the Rugby World Cup, with the final week of pool play around the corner.

Pool A

New Zealand

Wow, wow, wow. What’s left to say that hasn’t been said already regarding the All Blacks’ 96-17 onslaught against Italy, their largest World Cup victory since 2007? 

With the knowledge that a loss to the Azzurri would see New Zealand stunningly eliminated in the pool stages, the All Blacks ripped apart Italy for 14 tries.

Aaron Smith scored a hat-trick, while Will Jordan and Dane Coles each added braces. 

Sam Whitelock also became the most capped All Black on top of it all, too, as New Zealand emphatically announced that you still should consider them among the favorites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup later this month. 


There’s no sugarcoating it — Italy’s performance against the All Blacks was extremely poor and an abject disaster, made even worse considering that Azzurri coach Kieran Crowley made the claim before the game that other nations “have caught up” with New Zealand, considering the three-time world champion’s poor run of form entering the World Cup. 

Backed by many to be a dark horse that could shock the All Blacks and get to the quarterfinals, Italy, holding its tail between its legs, now must defeat host France in its pool-stage finale to advance to the knockout rounds.


Viva Los Teros. 

Winning just its fourth World Cup game in history when it beat Namibia 36-26 last week in Lyon, Uruguay had to get over a bad start but eventually hit another gear, thanks to a brace from Balthazar Amaya and three other tries elsewhere to get the bonus point. 

Technically not eliminated from the knockout stages, it’s still very unlikely that Uruguay will move on, as it would have to beat mighty New Zealand with a bonus point and get help from France, beating Italy by a wide margin. 

Still, coach Esteban Meneses and his men probably can eave France feeling satisfied, especially after a gutsy performance against France in their opener.


Credit must be given to the Welwitschias for going through the gauntlet of four matches in just 18 days in France, seeing multiple key players go down with injuries in the process. 

However, a potential shock victory from Namibia was on the radar of few people when it stormed out to a 14-0 lead and led 20-12 at halftime against Uruguay, with the team’s first World Cup win in its seventh tournament. 

However, Los Teros got things under control and got the victory, meaning Namibia will have to wait at least another four years to taste a win at a World Cup.

Pool B


Exactly the type of performance it needed to boost its hopes for the knockout rounds, Scotland blitzed a hapless Romania 84-0, as Darcy Graham scored four tries, and Ben Healy converted all 11 conversion kicks. 

Scotland was expected to cruise against Romania anyway, but its ferocity in doing so was an encouraging sign for coach Gregor Townsend and the squad, as its hopes to be among the final eight teams were on the ropes. 

This week, a massive must-win clash against Six Nations rival Ireland awaits at the Stade de France. 

South Africa

Tonga didn’t make things easy, but the defending world champions all but locked up their place in the quarterfinals in their pool stage finale, a 49-18 bonus-point win over the Sea Eagles. 

Players such as Deon Fourie and Canan Moodie had stormers, while fly-half Handre Pollard returned for his first test in nearly a year to kick through eight points in just over 50 minutes. 

Having done all they can, the Springboks await the result of the Ireland-Scotland match to determine who they’ll (most likely) face in the knockout stages.


The birthright rule has been of major benefit to nations such as Tonga, a small island nation whose rugby talent often is exported to more established powers, and it has shown in this World Cup, as Tonga has looked much improved from many years past. 

However, the “Pool of Death” takes no prisoners, and the Ireland-Scotland-South Africa gauntlet the Sea Eagles have been put through has unsurprisingly resulted in no points. 

The good news is that Tonga should be favored to leave France with a victory, as its scheduled to face a Romanian side in Lille off the back of three straight stompings.


The Mighty Oaks didn’t exactly have the easiest pool draw, sure, but their eight points scored to this point — all tallied against Ireland in their opener — in the World Cup is the lowest of any team in the tournament. 

Plus, despite only playing three matches, their 242 points allowed is the second-most at the World Cup thus far, with only Namibia (which has played four games) giving up more. 

Romania has been miserably bad, and it's difficult to see them effectively handling a powerful and physical Tonga side that isn’t afraid to grind out games ruthlessly.

Pool C


Completely run off of the park in an embarrassing blowout loss to Wales, the Wallabies rebounded and took care of business against Portugal in a 34-14 win, picking up the bonus point, as five players scored tries. 

It was Australia’s final pool-stage game in what has been an incredibly underwhelming tournament for the two-time world champions, who have slipped to an all-time low of 10th in the world and cannot control their quarterfinal destiny. 

Australia needs Portugal to shock Fiji to avoid missing out on the World Cup knockouts for the first time, but regardless, few associated with Australian rugby are returning home in better shape than when they left.


The perennial underdogs were instead in the unusual position of being the hunted when a pesky Georgian team threatened to take Fiji’s World Cup joyride off of the tracks. 

But the waves never quite stop when you’re playing Fiji, and as the islanders recovered from a 9-0 halftime deficit to win 17-12, they're now a step closer to their third World Cup knockout stage appearance and first since 2007. 

If the Flying Fijians get it done with a win against Portugal in their pool-stage finale, however, Fiji’s trip to the quarterfinals then becomes official, as it’ll join Wales from Pool C.


Bravo to Georgia for staying stubborn and refusing to quit when Fiji turned the Lelos’ stunning start upside-down. 

The Europeans weren’t able to get the win, but they did secure a losing bonus point to at least be in sole possession in fourth in the pool, albeit now eliminated from quarterfinal contention and the third-place slot to auto-qualify them for 2027. 

Georgia will close its time in France with a familiar foe — Wales, less than a year after the Lelos shocking win in Cardiff for one of the best victories in their history.


A bit of a nice surprise in Pool C in their return to the World Cup for the first time since 2007, the Lobos have held their own in what’s been the most evenly contested pool at this year’s competition, scoring twice against Australia in their first match, following their epic draw against Georgia. 

Portugal can’t qualify for the quarterfinals, but it can help another team do so in Australia, if it were to upset Fiji in Toulouse on Sunday (and the Wallabies have a better scoring differential if tied on points). 

Considering how Georgia had the Flying Fijians on the ropes this past week, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility for the Lobos to pull off such a noteworthy win.

Pool D


Meeting a South American opponent at a World Cup for the first time when it took on Chile, Argentina showed with authority that it’s still the top dog on the continent until further notice, scoring eight tries in Los Pumas’ 59-5 demolition of Los Condores. 

Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez put in a solid shift in his 100th appearance for the national team, converting all seven of his kicks, as he helped Argentina get the try bonus. 

A titanic clash with Japan in Nantes now awaits, with the winner moving on to the knockouts and the loser being sent home. 


After their famous run to the quarterfinals at their home World Cup four years ago, the Brave Blossoms are seeing if they’re up to the challenge of doing it again on foreign soil. 

Beating Samoa 28-22 helped Japan get closer to that goal, but the lack of a bonus point against Le Manu does hurt its standing slightly, as Japan is level with Argentina on nine points through three fixtures. 

Fly-half Rikiya Matsuda remained a solid kicking option, though, especially when he converted two crucial second-half penalties that could’ve seen Samoa get back into the game otherwise.


Admirably securing the losing bonus point against Japan, Samoa has heart, and it should give already-qualified England a fight, as Le Manu’s quarterfinal hopes still technically are alive, though the pulse is faint. 

Auto-qualification to the 2027 World Cup seems more like the realistic option, though Samoa still would need to beat England and hope Argentina defeats Japan, in order for it to have a chance to make it to third place.

Watch to see how exciting fullback Duncan Paia’aua gets involved after he scored his second try of the tournament late against Japan, which helped lead Samoa to the extra point.


Chile’s merely happy to be here, and that’s OK, especially since it’s a groundbreaking moment for Los Condores, to be playing in the first World Cup in their history. 

Still, from a performance standpoint, Chile’s World Cup ended poorly. 

After scoring early tries and looking threatening at times against both Samoa and Japan, England dumped a 71-point shutout on Chile, before South American rival Argentina also threatened a clean sheet, though hooker Tomas Dussaillant scored with just a few minutes left to get Los Condores on the board. 

Here’s to hopefully many more World Cups for you, Chile, now that the focus in future years for the country should not just be getting there, but competing, too.